Have you ever heard of Hannah Woolley, who in the 17th century kept a school at age fourteen and later lived on writing about domestic science? Or of Elizabeth Elstob, who in the 18th century was one of the foremost scholars of Old English literature? Or of Elizabeth Blackwell, who qualified as a medical doctor in the United States in the 19th century and went on to teach medical students as well as the public about health?
These are just some of the proper names we have recently added to our library catalogue, together with many indexing terms, to help you find our “invisible” books – not, as you might think, electronic books but paper copies, some decades old, some centuries. We have to keep them in our Stores, but you can request them online and then study them in the Library.
And what about educational institutions for girls: from Magdalen Hospital in Streatham, a workhouse for “Penitent Prostitutes”, to Stephens College, an all-women college aiming at a well-rounded general and social education, which thrives to this day in Missouri?
We can scarcely imagine now the obstacles women in former times had to overcome to obtain an education, pursue an occupation, publish any writings, or in fact do anything outside the sphere of the home – all this until very recently. The literature available at the Institute of Education can enlighten you about the past.
If you don’t know where to start, you could look up the subjects “Women’s education”, “Women’s employment”, “Women’s rights” or “Women” together with “History of education”, “School histories”, “University and college histories” or “Biographies”. (Curiously, at the time of posting this blog, precisely 1000 records show up under “University and college histories”.)
Alternatively, click the button “New titles” at the right hand of the catalogue screen, and you will chance upon hundreds of works that no one has consulted here lately. Be the first!